The Real Know How

How-Tos, Videos, Tutorials — Ramping Up for the 21st Century

Archive for the category “contaminated soil”

The Plant World’s Clean-up Crew – Hyperaccumulators

Hyperaccumulators are plants that are highly effective at accumulating nasty stuff like heavy metals in their “bodies.” So much so, that they can be planted expressly to improve contaminated soil.

Here’s the Wikipedia list of these plants.

You’ll notice some familiar plants on the list: sunflower, alfalfa, barley, kale, broccoli, cabbage, etc. The rapeseed plant, for example, seems very willing to accumulate several different heavy metals where some plants only have one heavy metal friend.

Raised beds of new soil are the usual solution for the home gardener who’s done a soil test and knows that they have contaminated soil but phytoremediation is being used by the US government as a cheap, effective, low-on-labor way to clean up the heavily contaminated Superfund sites.

Grist has an interesting article on what happens or should happen to plants that have been used to clean up toxins.


Urban Farming in Oakland, California

Urban farmer and author (Farm City:The Education of an Urban Farmer and The Essential Urban Farmer), Novella Carpenter talks about urban agriculture and shows us around her reclaimed-from-vacant-lot farm in the “Ghost Town” neighborhood in Oakland, California. She grows vegetables and raised poultry, rabbits, goats, bees and at one time pigs in a relatively small space.

Stuff she touches on in the interview: Raised beds, apiculture, livestock farming, dumpster diving for animal feed, community gardens, food deserts, slaughtering, most productive vegetable, how growing your own food can save money, lead contaminated soil, soil testing, urban predators, seed starting, starting small, books she uses for reference, the power of online how-to videos…

Novella Carpenter blogs at

Warning: Some of the graphics around animal slaughter and Novella’s stories about her pig’s eating habits and her confrontation with an opposum may be too much for some.

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